Anchors of hope, Encouragement

Need Some Gratitude? Prepositions Come to the Rescue for Thanks-Giving (Plus one simple thing)

30 Seconds for Hope: Who actually gives thanks on Thanksgiving Day? Do you? Will I? And what is thanks-giving? Is it that 15-second prayer before eating turkey till you’re stuffed? No, there’s definitely more, and gratitude becomes simple when you can complete two prepositions: to and for. Give thanks to someone for something—either something they are to you or something they have provided. Do this on Thanksgiving, and at the end of the day you will actually have given thanks! Then add one more thing, an exchanged life, and you can elicit automatic gratitude without even trying. What’s that? Read on…

And now the full story:

Tuesday morning I fought the crowds at Shoppers’ grocery store because I’d forgotten marshmallows for the sweet potato casserole.

Tuesday afternoon I cleaned our house for coming guests.

Wednesday morning I prepared cranberry sauce and dinner-roll dough to put in the fridge. 

Wednesday night I baked apple pies. From scratch.

Thursday morning I popped the turkey in the oven and crafted side dishes while my children watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Thursday at noon we ate the T-day feast. Till stuffed.

Thursday afternoon the kids and friends played backyard football, and I snacked on pie.

Thursday night we snuggled under blankets in our comfy chairs to watch a Christmas movie.

And Thanksgiving was over.

I fell into bed, exhausted yet wondering, “Have I actually stopped to be grateful for anything all day?”

I had succeeded at creating “Thanksgiving,” but had I done any actual thanks-giving? Thanksgiving Day was supposedly for gratitude, but at the end of the day, who had done it? Not me.

The same scenario replayed year after year… until one year I discovered two prepositions that solved my gratitude attitude. Instead of frustration over never achieving that nebulous gratitude (whatever it was), I found a tangible solution. I discovered it in multiple Bible verses that said: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. And loving. And faithful. And more. (See here and here) Gratitude was tied to finding the object of two prepositions: to and for. Give thanks to someone for something—either something they are for me or something they have provided. I would never achieve gratitude by focusing on myself, never by asking myself whether or not I had gratitude. Gratitude would be found by looking outside of myself at the actual things to be grateful for. (And the best discovery was still to come—one simple thing.)

Looking outside of myself. This was obviously true for cultivating gratitude to God. Thanks-giving was more than just tossing him a generalized word (“thanks”) but instead was a tangible focus on who God is, what he has done, and what he has promised. In addition, those two prepositions worked for any other kind of appreciation to anyone for anything. “I’m grateful to Grandma for bringing pumpkin pies!”  “I’m grateful to _______ for _______.”

Do you need more gratitude? Fill in those blanks. And even better, fill in the first blank through direct conversation with the someone. “Grandma, thanks for those delicious pies!” “Thank you, God, for life and love!”

Sometimes the prepositions didn’t need to be stated but they were inferred. Such as I could think, “I’m glad my husband remembered the whipped cream at the grocery store.” In analyzing that thought, it turns out that I was grateful to my husband for getting the whipped cream. The “to” and “for” were implied. Even if you don’t use those actual prepositions, gratitude comes from knowing the answers to the words to and for.

I was happy to discover this way of achieving tangible gratitude. It felt good to actually give thanks. However, over the years a pesky question still nagged me—one more thing to answer about gratitude.

I had learned how to give thanks, but had I learned to express enough appreciation? How much thanks-giving was sufficient on Thanksgiving Day? Or on any day? Once, twice? I read, “In everything give thanks.” Was I giving enough thanks in everything?

That’s when I discovered one more thing—an additional concept that revolutionized my gratitude.

I had been viewing gratitude as something to achieve, and though I had succeeded, I still felt short of having enough. Previously I had felt inadequate because in my vague definition I couldn’t find success. When I finally discovered “to” and “for,” I could succeed at giving thanks, but I couldn’t succeed at feeling I was ever grateful enough—according to me.

Thankfully, I eventually discovered that having enough successful gratitude wasn’t even the issue. Jesus had covered my “not enough.” I could never be grateful enough (it was true), and that’s why I had felt that nagging question. But that was okay because Jesus had given me a gift by exchanging his life for mine. I could never be righteous enough, or grateful enough, or anything else enough. I didn’t, and don’t, have a perfect record. But I learned that when Jesus died and then rose from his grave, he had taken my deceptions and shame with him to the cross and had exchanged them for his resurrected life. As a result, when I received his gracious gift, I was given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Christ in me, and I in him. My faulty and failing life was gone, and his perfect and eternal life had arrived. When I’d received his gift of forgiveness, he had:

  • Exchanged my death for his eternal life.
  • Exchanged my deceptions and shame for his truth and perfection.
  • Exchanged my fears for his secure promises. And more! (See here, here, and here.)

When I finally understood the exchanged life, I was extremely grateful without even trying! I just was! Those two prepositions jumped for joy inside me. Remember the template—gratitude to someone for something (either something they are to you or something they have provided)? I was extremely grateful to Jesus for becoming my righteousness, my enough, my hope!

I no longer wonder about having enough gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve not only discovered what thanks-giving is (being grateful to someone for something), but also I’ve learned that Jesus Christ is my enough.

And for that I ended up being very grateful.

“Thanks to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)


Image by John Hain from Pixabay

Anchors of hope, Encouragement

Hurt Again? Helpful Steps During Emotional Pain

30 Seconds for Hope:

Has someone mistreated you? What now? Should you retaliate, hibernate, or maybe pursue? Whether intentional or clueless, disregard often feels horrible, so I searched for a path through that pain. Now I want to share a path I discovered that moved me toward respect, boundaries, empathy, and forgiveness—steps that benefited me as well as others. After learning more about forgiveness (often a process over time), I decided to develop a worksheet (below) that for the past twelve years has helped me whenever I’m wrestling with the costs and benefits of forgiveness. Take steps forward. Some hope for you.

And now the full story:

Continue reading “Hurt Again? Helpful Steps During Emotional Pain”
Anchors of hope

Incredible Creation, Credible Science, and Christmas Hope

30 Seconds for Hope:

Nature is marvelous! Scientific discoveries shout, “Kudos to the designer,” and, amazingly, the Christmas story claims that the designer of the universe came to earth. Look at the science for yourself (follow the links in the article below), and enjoy amazing things in nature. These discoveries have led me to conclude that life on earth was planned and that our lives have meaning and purpose. “God is with us and for us”—that’s the Christmas message of hope!

Continue reading “Incredible Creation, Credible Science, and Christmas Hope”


A Sneaky Trust Buster. Are You Able to Spot It?

30 Seconds for Hope:  Heads up everyone! A very common logical fallacy produces misunderstandings and disappointments, creating offenses all around us. Be aware. This faulty type of logic, called false dilemma, sneaks in when we believe we know why someone did what they did without knowing all the factors or possibilities.  It shows up when we say, “Either he cares about me or he doesn’t” (which is an “either/or” supposition, assuming only two, mutually exclusive options). False-dilemma reasoning only considers two alternatives when, in reality, multiple possibilities might be reasons. Have you learned to spot this trust buster? Recognizing false dilemmas will help you build deeper friendships.

Continue reading “A Sneaky Trust Buster. Are You Able to Spot It?”

Encouragement, Help from Mentor Moms

How Can You Motivate Children? Ideas beyond Candy and Money (and Yelling)

30 Seconds for Hope: Do your kids act deaf? I mean, do they hear just fine but maybe aren’t motivated to listen and act? Would you like some ideas on how to help them respond—tips that go beyond threats, coins, or candy? Do you hope for a more upbeat tone in your home? Over the years I have learned some outside-the-box ideas for motivating children that I want to pass along to you.

Continue reading “How Can You Motivate Children? Ideas beyond Candy and Money (and Yelling)”
Encouragement, Help from Mentor Moms

Unmask Freedom’s Sidekick–or Ouch! (Have You Felt the Kick?)

30 Seconds for Hope:

We’re free! Yet often when claiming our freedoms, both kids and adults remain unaware of a coupled factor. Every freedom we demand will be accompanied by…  mask debates? Toilet paper shortages? (Stay tuned!) Whether impacting neighbors or ourselves, Continue reading “Unmask Freedom’s Sidekick–or Ouch! (Have You Felt the Kick?)”

Anchors of hope, Encouragement

Dead Possum in Our Garbage. (Be Mindful of Explosions!)

trash-313711_128030 Seconds for Hope: Your mind is a powerful gatekeeper. When you are faced with challenges, the core person who is you will choose what to believe and how to think. Believe it or not, becoming aware of that fact infuses help and hope!

Now the full story:

I didn’t act fast enough when my husband, Mike, first informed me, so you could say that I brought the explosion on myself. But I’m getting ahead.

“There’s a dead possum under our neighbor’s front porch,” Mike said on Wednesday. “And Continue reading “Dead Possum in Our Garbage. (Be Mindful of Explosions!)”

Encouragement, Help from Mentor Moms

Help! I’m at Home with Kids All Day! Survival Tips Beyond Screen Time.


30 Seconds for Hope: Last month in our nation’s previous “culture,” your children went to school or daycare—out of the house. But suddenly all has changed. You take care of your children. At home. All day. To help you through these days, many have posted links to websites that entertain or educate kids, and that’s great—but you might desire less screen time for your children. So I’ve created this toolkit of ideas not requiring the screen as you transition into a new “culture.” You can Continue reading “Help! I’m at Home with Kids All Day! Survival Tips Beyond Screen Time.”

Encouragement, Time to Refresh

“I’ve Failed As a Mom…” Silencing the Mom Guilt

sunset-3087474_192030 Seconds for Hope:

Countless moms wilt under the thought of “I’ve failed as a mom” when their child struggles. Have you faced that mom guilt? If so, consider this: You impact your child, but you’ll never have the last word about his or her mature choices. This means no one should ever declare you to be the ultimate reason for your child’s mess-ups. Even if you could have been an ideal mom, your child’s life could still go awry because kids have choices, too. A mother isn’t an all-powerful determiner of destiny.  So have you been discouraged, thinking “I’ve failed as a mom?” Silence that thought with this reality: “I impact my child, but I’m not the end of their story.” Now that’s more like it. Why? Read on… Continue reading ““I’ve Failed As a Mom…” Silencing the Mom Guilt”

Anchors of hope, Encouragement

Empty Nest Prep Begins at Birth. Have you taken the key step? (It’s never too late!)


30 Seconds for Hope:

Empty nest? The thought can make you cringe. Or cry. You look at your baby and think, “No, don’t ever fly away!” Yet kids do grow up. That’s a given. So today–right now–is your opportunity to cultivate a different mindset that will pay big benefits at the time of empty nest. It becomes easier to let go later if Continue reading “Empty Nest Prep Begins at Birth. Have you taken the key step? (It’s never too late!)”